Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Mending Strained Ties: French President Macron hosts Putin at Versailles Palace (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Mending Strained Ties: French President Macron hosts Putin at Versailles Palace (part 1)

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: 'The Square', Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix take top prizes

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

The violinist of Venezuela's protests; and France's dying bees

Read more

FOCUS

Famine used as a weapon of war in South Sudan

Read more

THE DEBATE

Let's talk Africa-Asia partnerships (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Let's talk Africa-Asia partnerships (part 1)

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

British Airways IT debacle could cost the airline big

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Security in Europe: Is there more that could or should be done?

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2012-01-27

Egypt’s Salafist surge

In a matter of months, Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists have beaten a path from marginalised religious sect to major political force. But what do we know about them, aside from their heavily religious roots? France 24’s Chris Moore and Noreddine Bezziou travelled to Egypt to find out.

We meet the president of the Salafist Al Nour party as he leads prayers at a mosque in Alexandria. “Before the revolution prayers were on more general subjects…now we are freer and we can be more frank,” Emad Abdul Ghafour tells us.

Like fellow members, he’s brimming with confidence. They’ve just scored 24% of the vote in Egypt’s landmark elections, making them the second biggest bloc in parliament. Not bad for a political party founded just nine months ago.

Hosni Mubarak’s departure in February 2011 has seen Egypt’s Salafists emerge from the shadows. Before, they operated in the half-light, in little mosques like these, the former leader’s security services – wary of Islamists – never far away.

Now, they can openly advocate their agenda. Their ideal society is that of the first Muslims, one based on a strict adherence to the Koran and Sharia law.

What is striking among the party’s leaders and supporters is the belief that this model will soon become reality. They’re buoyed by election results which have seen Egyptians vote overwhelmingly for Islam – the Salafists coming in second only to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Above the Salafists’ political wing is a religious council which gives the green light to policy. In a mosque further along the road we meet one of its members, Ahmed Farid. “Believing in total freedom, that individuals can do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others as they put it…that doesn’t work in our religion…because we are the servants of God and servants obey their masters,” he tells us.

Below the political wing exists a long-standing network of sympathisers whose means are growing. In the city of Faiyoum, we meet Abu Muslim. At 16, he became Egypt’s youngest Islamist prisoner, and spent 14 years in Mubarak’s notorious jail system before being released in 2006. “The more you’re tortured for your beliefs…the deeper those beliefs become,” he says.

Now, Abu Muslim has founded a centre with like-minded individuals. Their goal is to make ancient religious rules compatible with modern life and business.

With the generals who replaced Mubarak promising to hand power to a civilian government, Egyptians are about to learn how far and how fast the Islamists will go in applying Sharia law - and to discover the level of sway the Salafists hold.

By Noreddine BEZZIOU , Christopher MOORE

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-05-26 Middle East

Exclusive: Inside the battle for Mosul, chaos on the ground

For more than seven months, Iraqi forces have been conducting a major offensive to rout the Islamic State group from Mosul. But the jihadists are putting up fierce resistance...

Read more

2017-05-18 Asia-pacific

Video: India's battle against 'superbugs'

It’s the gravest healthcare threat facing humanity. The World Health Organization has estimated that antibiotic resistance, or ‘superbugs’ as these bacteria have come to be...

Read more

2017-05-12 Middle East

How natural gas could be a geopolitical game-changer in the Mideast

It's a discovery that could easily shake up the geopolitical order in the Middle East. Deep under the eastern Mediterranean lies the largest natural gas basin ever found on...

Read more

2017-05-04 Asia-pacific

Forced into exile: The plight of the Rohingyas

There are more than 1.3 million Rohingya people in the world. Although they have lived in Burma for more than two centuries, this Muslim minority is not among those officially...

Read more

2017-04-28 Spain

The booming business of cannabis in Spain

In Spain, thanks to the success of the "clubs" that have cropped up since 2011, cannabis has become a gold mine. From by-products such as cannabis lollipops and drinks, to...

Read more